DENVER -- Champions, contenders and sub-.500 teams all take gut punches during a Major League season. But the last category -- where the Rockies have finished the last four seasons -- are the teams that don't recover. No telling where the 2015 Rockies will finish, but Wednesday night could prove a step toward redefinition.
The Rockies scored three runs in a scrappy ninth inning, which ended with Nolan Arenado's bases-loaded sacrifice fly, and grabbed a 7-6 victory over the National League West-leading Dodgers. The teams split four games, but this one meant a little more.
On Tuesday, after winning the first game of a doubleheader, the Rockies took a three-run lead into the ninth and were one strike from a sweep when the Dodgers' Alex Guerrero blasted a grand slam to dead center for a 9-8 Dodgers victory. Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu called it "one of the lowest points of the season," and this is a season in which the Rockies have endured an 11-game losing streak.
On Wednesday, Chad Bettis' fourth straight solid start (two runs, one earned, in six innings) and Troy Tulowitzki's three-run homer in the fifth gave the Rockies a 4-2 lead that they carried into the seventh. But after the Dodgers tallied a three-run seventh and Joc Pederson's solo shot -- his fifth straight game with a homer -- the Rockies stared at a 6-4 deficit.
Keep in mind that before the game, manager Walt Weiss addressed the club to make sure Tuesday night didn't linger. He said before the game, "It could, but it won't." But when the Dodgers grabbed the lead, it wasn't clear if the Rockies received the message.
But a ninth inning that started with Michael McKenry's pinch-hit single and Charlie Blackmon's double -- his fourth hit -- and included three walks (including Tulowitzki's with the bases loaded) and the sacrifice fly proved the Rockies heard Weiss clearly.
"I'm not trying to be a part of a team that shuts it down after we lose a lead," Blackmon said. "I don't think I've ever played on a team that does that."
The Rockies' offense was quiet in the seventh and eighth, but Tulowitzki said he never felt the Rockies were done.
"Guys were still upbeat in the dugout, thinking we could get it done," said Tulowitzki, whose RBI walk gave him his fifth of the game.
Thrilling victory notwithstanding, the Rockies have a climb. Part of it is establishing credibility.
They're last in the West, although at 6 1/2 games behind the Dodgers, it's not as if they're in a deep hole. Wednesday's was their ninth victory in 12 games, but the four combined against the Dodgers and Giants grab more attention than the five against the struggling Reds and Phillies.
"I'm here to win and I speak for our team, we're trying to win," Blackmon said. "That's a good team, and we very well could have beaten them three out of four."